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Champions League final: Thomas Tuchel, Hansi Flick in focus

Sports Mole looks at the contrasting coaching careers of Thomas Tuchel and Hansi Flick ahead of the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and PSG.

A coach not many would have heard of at the start of the season, Hansi Flick is one step away from winning the Champions League as Bayern Munich face Paris Saint-Germain in Sunday's final.

Flick had spent most of his post-playing career working as an assistant, but Niko Kovac's departure in November provided him with a huge opportunity that he has taken with both hands.

Opposite number Thomas Tuchel has a lot more experience of managing and winning at the highest level, having won domestic trophies in Germany with Borussia Dortmund and France with PSG.

One of the two will lift the most famous club trophy of them all in Lisbon this weekend. Ahead of the match, Sports Mole looks at both Flick and Tuchel's careers to date.

PSG boss Thomas Tuchel on October 18, 2019© Reuters

Thomas Tuchel

A chronic knee injury forced Tuchel to call time on his playing career at the age of just 25, and it did not take him long to make the transition into coaching.

The German initially worked as a youth team coach at Stuttgart, before becoming youth team coordinator and then being given his first managerial role with Augsburg II in 2007.

Tuchel clearly impressed as it did not take long for Mainz 05 to come calling, seeing enough potential in the young coach to name him as Jurgen Klopp's successor in 2009.

Working on a limited budget, Tuchel was tasked with keeping the club in the Bundesliga and thrived in that role by building a team of his own liking.

Thomas Tuchel in charge of PSG in pre-season on July 21, 2018© Reuters

After defying expectations to finish seventh in his first season, he then guided Mainz to fifth the following year and into the Europa League.

Mainz slipped to 13th the following year, the demands of juggling European and domestic campaigns proving difficult for Tuchel, who also lost a couple of key men.

The following season would prove to be his last at the Opel Arena, bowing out on a high by again qualifying for the Europa League with a seventh-placed finish.

With his reputation only growing, Tuchel rejected approaches from Schalke 04 and Bayer Leverkusen before taking on the Dortmund job in 2015, a year after leaving Mainz.

Not for the first time, Tuchel was given the task of replacing the hugely popular Klopp and could not manage that on this occasion.

Dortmund lost to Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal final, finished 10 points behind their rivals in the league and were eliminated by Klopp's Liverpool in the Europa League quarters.

BVB spent big that summer and it paid off somewhat as they beat Eintracht Frankfurt in the domestic cup final - Tuchel's first silverware in management.

Paris St Germain's Kylian Mbappe speaks to coach Thomas Tuchel as he comes off as a substitute in February 2020© Reuters

However, with tension building with CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke behind the scenes, Tuchel was sacked three days later, just two years into his contract.

Given his relative lack of success with Dortmund, and his underwhelming European record, Tuchel seemed a surprising choice for PSG in 2018.

Tuchel's first match in charge yielded the first of six trophies in the French capital, beating Monaco 4-0 to win the Trophee des Champions.

PSG enjoyed an incredible 2018-19 Ligue 1 campaign, breaking numerous records en route to lifting the title, but the season as a whole was a disappointment.

Not only did the Parisiens exit the Coupe de la Ligue early on and lose the Coupe de France final to Rennes, they squandered a commanding lead against Manchester United to suffer last-16 elimination from the Champions League.

Tuchel was surprisingly offered a contract extension last year and has more than repaid that faith this term, winning a clean sweep of domestic trophies and guiding the club into their first Champions League final.

Having been made to live in the shadows of Klopp at two of his former clubs, Tuchel can now prove that he is a hugely talented coach in his own right this weekend.

Hansi Flick

Flick's coaching career has spanned four years longer than Tuchel's, but he has spent the majority of that time up to this season working as a right-hand man.

It all started with a player-manager position at lower-league side Viktoria Bammental, where he spent four years.

At the turn of the millennium, the German coach became manager of Oberliga Baden-Wurttemberg side Hoffenheim, who are now of course an established top-flight club.

After gaining promotion to Regionalliga Sud at the first attempt, Flick was unable to guide the club to 2. Bundesliga over the next four years and was relieved of his duties.

Bayern boss Hansi Flick on May 30, 2020© Reuters

Flick's coaching career then took a different turn as he spent time working alongside Giovanni Trapattoni and Lothar Matthaus as sporting coordinator at Red Bull Salzburg.

Working with veteran boss Trapattoni would help Flick massively in the long term, but he did not last long with Salzburg before jumping ship to try his luck at international level.

It was with the Germany national side that Flick gained a reputation for being a coach ahead of his time, playing a key part in their 2014 World Cup triumph.

Flick's title changed after that World Cup triumph, the 55-year-old being named sporting director for the next two-and-a-half years.

Hansi Flick in charge of Bayern Munich on November 6, 2019© Reuters

Following two years out of the game, Flick was brought to Bayern in July 2019 to working as assistant to Kovac.

Four months later, Kovac was sacked following a poor start to the 2019-20 campaign and Flick, despite his lack of first-team coaching experience, was placed in caretaker charge.

Flick impressed so much that he was given the job on a short-term basis in December, a contract that has since been turned into a three-year deal.

It has been quite the journey for Flick, then, and one that could yet end with him becoming only the second manager in Bayern's history to win a European and domestic treble.

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